Friday, April 29, 2016

Happy Sugar-versary to Me

Today marks one full month since I gave up sweets. 
I found this entry in my food journal today and felt pretty damn proud of myself:

And I have stopped saying, "I gave up sweets" because it just sounds so martyr'ish and deprived.

Instead, I now look at it as being emancipated from sugar. Being freed from the shackles of sugar is liberating, powerful and extremely rewarding. Who knew it could feel this way? And except for the 3 day headache I had 5 days into this gig, I'm feeling pretty damn good and my mental fog has lifted, tremendously. Yay! Extra brain power is always a good thing.

Today  I will share some tips that have helped me to get through the last 30 days. This is, by no means, any type of medical advice, just what has worked for me:

1. I plan my snacks to heed off cravings. Some of my favorites include: hard boiled eggs, fruit, nuts, apple slices or banana with all natural peanut butter (no sugar added!), and these yummy homemade breakfast oatmeal muffins which do not contain any flour or sugar. I actually use less than half of the amount of honey suggested and they taste great. Eating snacks with protein throughout the day definitely helps to maintain my blood sugar so I don't have highs and lows I would normally have if I was hitting the candy dish at work.

2. Before my morning coffee, I start the day with a big glass of water with squeezed lemon. Here's why. So many reasons!!

3. Speaking of water, I drink it all day long. I keep a large refilled cup with me everywhere I go. It keeps me hydrated and feeling fuller. I've learned not to mistake thirst for hunger.

4. I do not use any artificial sweeteners of any kind. I never have and never will and I am actually shocked that they are still on the market, considering how harmful they are. They also do not really stave off any cravings and can make them worse.

5. Exercise, exercise, exercise. It gives me something else to do (besides baking cookies) and is a great stress reliever and mood elevator. I have also returned to yoga and that has brought me the biggest joy of all.

6. I incorporate extra veggies in my diet wherever possible. They have tons of nutrients, fiber, and water and help to fill you up. Example. I made homemade burgers the other night and mixed in 2-3 diced portobello mushrooms, 1/4 chopped onion and a half of a shredded and squeezed dry zucchini. with some of my favorite spices and a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce. All of these veggies literally disappeared into the meat  and helped me to get an extra 2 burgers out of the meal. A win win! (the kids had no clue either). I also cut up tons of raw veggies on a Sunday and keep them in a container for the week and grab for a quick snack.

7. I do not drink any alcohol. At all. For some, this will not work. For me, I simply cannot handle any alcohol due to the estrogen blocking, 10 year drug I am on. Alcohol does not agree with me. It's more sugar and calories I don't have to worry about.

Because I have eliminated sweets, my life does not seem to revolve around hunger and food anymore like it used to. Now, I just eat for sustenance and it's sort of odd, coming from an Italian family where everything always revolved around food and treats. I also find myself taking on more projects around the house and have an intense need to clean  out every one's closets and drawers.

My point is, life is still joyful, if not more. I don't feel deprived, ever. And the thought of eating candy is actually revolting to me.  Life is sweet enough and I'm sure I can find another closet to clean!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Going Sugar Free: It's Lent, Only Longer

How does one go about giving up sugar? There is so much advice on the internet and there are a lot of great ideas out there. I'll share what has worked for me in the next few blog posts. This blog is really more about getting your head on straight and psyching yourself up. If I can do it, so can you!!

Here we go:

1. The first rule of Sugar Free Club:  I stopped telling myself "I could never give up sugar." (Many have said this to me lately).  I stifled the old voices in my head that had previously sabotaged my efforts. My new voices say, "I am powerful and sugar is no longer in charge."

2. I told myself that if I dabbled in any way, then it would be over. My version of dabbling means trying "harmless" things like a few chocolate chips in my Greek yogurt or a few chocolate chips on a spoonful of peanut butter. I reminded myself that when I had dabbled in the past, it always led to a relapse of epic proportions. So, no dabbling allowed.

3. I didn't set an "end date" for quitting sugar. This is Lent, only longer. I'm going to keep it going for as long as possible. Do I get a front row seat in heaven for this one?

4. I pretend I have a severe food allergy or that I am like a recovering alcoholic who simply cannot have one drink without falling off the wagon. This is a very powerful technique and has allowed me to retrain my brain. If you keep telling yourself something over and over again, you will believe it, even if it isn't true. This can work in both positive and negative ways, depending on what your self-chatter is all about!

5. When I find myself in a social setting involving sweets, I simply let the voices of Nancy Reagan and M.C. Hammer guide me during these testy times.

My new favorite power couple!
 6. I sought out inspiration from people who have kicked the sugar habit successfully. Hearing their triumphant stories and words of encouragement helped me to get started and keep going. "It gets easier, don't give up", and "If and when you ever do eat sweets again you won't really enjoy them like before." All of this gives me hope.

I know my tips may seem a little unconventional but they are definitely working for me. The next blog will talk about the practical things I am doing to stay on track.  Stay tuned, my sweeties!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Living without Sugar

I have read numerous articles about the damaging effects of sugar on the body and here is a great one written by a nutritionist. This one point: Sugar may be linked to cancer production and may effect cancer survival was the nail in the coffin for me. Please read the article because there are so many more important reasons to give up or at least cut down on the sweet stuff.

As promised in my last blog, here is an update on my progress:

I am happy to report I have been sugar free for 17 days and counting. No desserts of any kind; cookies, candy, ice cream, or even the usual 1/2 tsp of sugar in my morning Joe.

I have scooped ice cream for my kids without so much as licking the spoon, my co-workers have dangled Dove chocolates under my nose without incident, and last weekend  I sat at a child's birthday party where 2 moms devoured Allies doughnut cake right in front of me.  One of them actually snickered when I told her I had given up sugar.  She said to me, "But you have to live!"  It's funny how we associate a few seconds of pleasure with "Living".

I then started rattling off my list of reasons for quitting sweets.  I told her that I now treat myself like  a person with a severe food allergy or a recovering alcoholic who wouldn't dare to dabble in one drink.  I think this made her a little uncomfortable but I think she understood a lot better when I explained my health history and just how lousy sugar was making me feel. She then proceeded to inhale  her doughnut cake in all its glory. I sat there, completely happy for her, yet removed from it all.

I'm allergic. It will make me sick.. 

These are the mantras I hold close and use as weaponry when life gets too sweet.  And you know, it's really working. I have realized over the last 17 days that I can live without sweets and they do not control me any longer. I find myself having flashbacks of Funny Bones, brownie sundaes, chocolate chip cookies, and Twix bars. I can vividly remember the way they taste and then I tell myself, "That's a nice memory, but it has to be enough." And then I move on.

Sometimes a memory of something has to be enough if you want to keep on living.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Breaking up with Sugar....Again

It's been far too long since my last post and I really have missed writing. All has been going pretty well here on the home front, with the exception of some nasty and occasional side effects of Tamoxifen. For the most part, I have adjusted to the drug but on occasion, I have had some major bouts of depression, anxiety, rage, apathy and exhaustion. Thankfully, I am aware that it is the drug talking and not something else. Adding peri-menopause to the mix adds even more excitement!

Oh, and did I mention forgetfulness? The other day, I was driving to work and turned into the Lowe's parking lot which would have been fantastic if I actually worked at Lowe's. In all fairness to me, I was very busy trying to harmonize with Adele on the radio and got mildly distracted. My office was at the next light so I wasn't really off Google maps, just yet.

Being almost 3 years out from my original BC diagnosis, I decided this year to really focus on my own health and wellness instead of fear and anxiety. I have been trying so very hard to take good care of myself. I find myself eating healthier food, exercising, minimizing stress, and reducing the toxic burden in my life by using safer products on my skin and in my home.  Swearing at people who throw cigarette butts outside their car windows also helps. It's all about balance.

With all of this super self-care, there was one area that still suffered, and that was my sugar intake.
Read this for my history on this sugar struggle bus.

Overall, I am OK (at least I was telling myself this). But all it takes is one mother of a chocolate holiday (aren't they all lately?) to derail me, or an innocent night of baking cookies "for the kids" which turns into a gorge fest to "get rid of them" the day after.   Easter is the new Halloween judging by the obnoxious bags of candy adorning the Easter aisles of any Target or CVS and while we really didn't buy the kids much candy, they still somehow landed with enough to fill Olson's Mercantile. And the only way to get rid of it is to EAT IT.

My come-to-Jesus moment came just 1 day after Easter when I found myself on my own personal Easter egg hunt  searching for candy where candy does not bedroom closet and  underneath the bathroom counters (I recall having hidden some Swedish fish inside a tampon box once) and then I stopped in my tracks. I actually stepped outside myself for a  moment and looked at how desperate and crazy I had become. This is what pure sugar addiction had done to me  For once, I am not joking.

This one moment in time proved to me that I needed help. If I was going to get real about giving up sugar then it meant that I could no longer just have a little here and there, or as I call it, "dabbling".

So, I have finally decided to kick my sugar habit once and for all. I know my closest friends and family members are saying, "Here she goes again", but this time is different. (Spoken like a true addict, I know!)

Every single one....applicable!

It's been almost one full week since I have eaten any form of dessert, cookie, candy, or even sugar in my coffee. I have to say it has been so much easier than my other feeble attempts. The difference this time is that I know I have a real problem with sugar and now I simply look at it as something that actually makes me sick, both physically and mentally.

Of course, I haven't lost a fucking pound, but that's OK. I'm really proud of myself for taking this step and finding my inner power. I promise to keep you posted on this one. I know I always say that here, but this time, it's different.